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Cardiff Blues v Leicester Tigers | European Rugby Challenge Cup | Saturday 16th November 2019

Form

Cardiff Blues: LLLWW

Leicester Tigers: LLWLW

Leicester have had a tough start to the season and headed into European action bottom of the Gallagher Premiership, although they have since been replaced by Saracens after their points deduction. A comfortable win over Pau last week get their Challenge Cup campaign off to a good start though.

Head-to-head

Leicester 34-0 Cardiff Blues – 13/01/2007 (Anglo-Welsh Cup)

Leicester 42-20 Cardiff Blues – 03/11/2007 (Anglo-Welsh Cup)

Cardiff Blues 23-9 Leicester – 25/10/2008 (Anglo-Welsh Cup)

Cardiff Blues 26-26 Leicester – 03/05/2009 (Heineken Cup)

Cardiff Blues 9-43 Leicester – 07/02/2015 (Anglo-Welsh Cup)

The majority of fixtures between the two sides have come in the now defunct Anglo-Welsh Cup to-date, with the only European fixture of the Heineken Cup heavyweights coming in the 2008/09 semi-final at the Principality Stadium. We’ll brush over that game though!

Team news

Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill, Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams (c); Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Will Boyde, Nick Williams

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Keiron Assiratti, Macauley Cook, James Botham, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Matthew Morgan

There are nine changes to the starting XV made by John Mulvihill as he recalls Domachowski, Belcher, Andrews, Boyde, Nick Williams, Lloyd Williams and Summerhill after they were rested against Calvisano last week.

Owen Lane and Hallam Amos are back after playing for Wales at the Rugby World Cup, with the latter making his debut after a summer move from Dragons. Jason Tovey returns from injury to cover fly-half from the bench.

Leicester Tigers: George Worth, Adam Thompstone, Joe Thomas, EW Viljoen, Andy Forsyth, Tom Hardwick, Ben White (c); Ellis Genge, Jake Kerr, Joe Heyes, Tomás Lavanini, Harry Wells, Sam Lewis, Guy Thompson, Jordan Coghlan

Replacements: Charlie Clare, Facundo Gigena, Nephi Leatigaga, Cameron Jordan, Thom Smith, Harry Simmons, Sam Costelow, Freddie Steward

Only EW Viljoen and Argentinian international Tomas Lavanini survive in the starting XV from the side that beat Pau last week as Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy rings the changes.

Out are seven England internationals who featured in Japan, but there is still top level quality coming in with Scottish cap Joe Kerr and English cap Ellis Genge, while the likes of Sam Lewis, Joe Thomas and George Worth are stars of the future.

Player to watch

A lot has been written in the press about Ellis Genge this week with a possible move away from Welford Road on the cards next summer.

However, don’t think that will distract him. If anything it may trigger a top performance from the loosehead prop who is as happy in open play as he is in the set piece.

What the coaches said

“We did ourselves a favour by picking up five points away from home last week. If we can follow that with a win, we can re-assess and look back at the PRO14 and make sure we take the momentum out of this week’s games into that competition.

“Depending on how much importance the French team place on the Challenge Cup, this game could go a long way to figuring out who finishes as the top two in the pool. It’s a home fixture for us, and we need to win it, but I’m sure Leicester will be looking to come down, get the points and set themselves up nicely for the rest of the competition.

“As a squad, we’re really looking forward to a European night at the Arms Park. We have a lot of history in Europe against Leicester and hopefully we will have a packed out crowd who will create a memorable atmosphere in the Welsh capital.”

John Mulvihill, Cardiff Blues Head Coach

“We have a lot of players who have just come back to us in the last couple of weeks from the World Cup and we have a plan to manage them physically and mentally through this period of the season.

“We also have a good squad of players around that, we want to use it and we want to reward players for their work so far this season. This is a good opportunity for the group we’ve selected for the weekend against a very impressive Cardiff Blues team.”

Geordan Murphy, Leicester Tigers Head Coach

The referee

Pierre Brousset is an experienced French domestic referee, with 41 Top14 games to his name, and made his Heineken Cup debut last weekend as he officiated the Leinster win over Benetton in Dublin.

Unfortunately for Cardiff Blues fans he has only refereed one game of ours previously, and it was the nightmare inducing 24-0 loss away at Sale back in 2017. Fortunately we went on to win the Challenge Cup that season!

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